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'Recruitment Inflation' Is Driving Advisor Misplacement

Addressing the root cause of advisor dissatisfaction, rather than inflating successes, is how we’re going to move forward as an industry.

By Ryan Shanks

Let’s say you—an advisor or a representative of a firm—are attending an industry networking event. You shake hands with your fellow attendee and ask about your respective firms. What’s one of the first questions you ask?

“How many advisors do you have at your firm?”

It’s a moniker of success in our M&A-driven community. We often don’t see beyond the “big number”; we’re so obsessed with the rate of growth that we forget to ask ourselves, “What’s the rate of advisor satisfaction?”

I call this “recruitment inflation,” and it’s a common reason advisors find themselves misplaced in their current roles. Recruiters tout head count as a selling point, averting advisors’ attention away from the revolving door behind them.

This produces only one result: Advisors aren’t fooled for long and eventually seek happiness elsewhere. As such, I believe addressing the root cause of retention issues and advisor dissatisfaction, rather than inflating successes, is how we’re going to move forward as an industry.

Promise Into Practice

If your firm’s hemorrhaging advisors, hiring more people is never the answer. Instead, reframe the way you articulate your value propositions. Your brand and notoriety alone are not enough to keep advisors. Consider focusing your attention away from your brand and onto how your resources can help advisors develop skills, grow their influence and better serve their clients; then, follow through.

  • Do your homework. You can’t develop a business model that’s truly advisor-centric without doing the homework. Ask yourself: What are my competitors doing that’s successful? What matters most to advisors today? How’s my brand publicly perceived? Then, you’ll begin to distill your value.
  • Hire where it counts. Firms typically struggle to retain the right advisors because they’ve overstaffed areas of the business that don’t impact client service. With a plethora of technology tools available today, it’s worth doing an inventory to see where you can streamline back-office tasks and refocus energy back onto advisors.
  • Turn your passion into value. What’s your niche? Where do leaders excel, and how can they share those skill sets? For example, if you love helping professionals grow their personal brands, develop a marketing offering for your advisors. This will attract candidates who prioritize the same things.

Questions Advisors Should Be Asking

Advisors who find themselves at a dead end in their current company will identify with some questions they should’ve asked when networking with potential firms:

  • What’s your advisor retention rate?
  • Do employees receive equity in your firm?
  • What’s your mission?
  • How do you help advisors grow as professionals, beyond AUM?
  • What’s most important to your advisors?

Don’t be fooled by “recruitment inflation.” With today’s access to information, it’s important that firms and advisors do their due diligence to make the right decisions for their futures. In the end, it all comes down to purpose and how we’re living ours each day.

Ryan Shanks is co-founder and CEO of FA Match, a digital recruitment platform that connects RIA firms, banks, wirehouses and independent broker/dealers with advisors seeking meaningful career transitions. He is also the founder of Finetooth Consulting, a recruitment firm that has worked with financial advisors and firms for 20 years.

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